The 5 Biggest VoIP Security Threats

Maab Saleem

May 09 2018

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The voice over IP technology has been around for a really long time now and its prevalence is increasing with every passing day. Over the past decade or so, many companies have put the traditional telephony technology in their rear view to adopt VoIP, which offers cheaper and often, more efficient communication services. Owing to these perpetual technological advancements, finding the best VoIP service these days is a stroll in the park.

Another thing that normally happens when a technology becomes more prevalent and “mainstream”, is that it becomes more susceptible to security attacks. In the early days, people were more worried about the cost, deployment and reliability of VoIP systems. Now, since they are considerably cheaper and there are no reliability question-marks, security is an issue that needs looking into. The best VoIP phone service providers normally pay a lot of attention to security when deploying a system but there are certain threats that everybody should be aware of. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest security threats that can be posed to any VoIP system:

The Big 5

1. Service Or Identity Theft

If you look at the best VoIP provider reviews, you will see that all of the top companies know that mitigation of service/identity theft risks is the primary security concern in the world of VoIP. Data sent over SIP, which is the protocol responsible for user authentication, isn’t encrypted and this makes the user data vulnerable to interception and eventually theft. According to IBM, SIP was the most targeted VoIP protocol in 2016, accounting for almost 51% of all the attack efforts made. Hackers use eavesdropping techniques to monitor traffic and once they get their hands on sensitive information like passwords, phone numbers and usernames, they can get access to all communication services like calling plans, charging information and voicemail etc.

2. Denial Of Service (DOS) Attacks

Another possible security threat posed to VoIP systems is that of denial of service (DOS) attacks. Malicious data in the form of viruses, messages or IP packets can make their way into the system and cause the VoIP controlling service to halt temporarily or even permanently at times. The systems that don’t have firewalls implemented at the router level are more susceptible to these attacks. Hackers carry out DOS attacks by sending bulk signaling messages to the network and causing the connection to slow down or the system to crash or shut down. Eventually, DOS attacks can lead to significant drops in call quality or unavailability of the service altogether.

3. Vishing

Vishing is the VoIP version of Phishing which involves an unknown entity calling a credible enterprise or business to obtain sensitive or confidential information. Most of the time, during a vishing attack, the hacker asks for critical information like social security, bank details, credit card information or other individual or enterprise data. Even though this is more a social engineering ploy, it can have direct effects on the security of the VoIP infrastructure just as often. The revealed information can allow the hacker to compromise the system in one way or another

4. SPIT Or Spamming Over Internet Telephony

SPIT or spamming over internet telephony is VoIP’s variant of the spamming that happens in your email inbox. Since VoIP has become more prevalent, more and more businesses are making the transition from traditional telephony, making VoIP a viable pathway to send spam through. Spam messages can also carry viruses or other forms of malware that can compromise a system or lead to its malfunction.

5. VoIP As A Pathway To Your Core Network

Sometimes businesses use their same day-to-day internet connection to set up VoIP which can be a major security concern as well unless rigorous security is implemented. If a hacker is able to compromise a VoIP system and get access to the network, they can then disrupt other core services of a business as well because everything flows on the same network.

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Signs That Your VoIP System Has Been Hacked

If you notice any of the following signs in your VoIP system, then it’s possible that your system has been hacked:

  1. Fake antivirus messages: Sometimes hackers use your antivirus to find a pathway into your system. If you see any fake antivirus messages pop up out of the blue, make sure you inform your service provider.
  2. Microphones and webcams get activated on their own: If you ever feel that your webcams or microphones sporadically activate without your approval, then you will also need to contact your security team or service provider.
  3. Sudden drop in call quality: Sudden drop in call quality can also happen as an aftermath of a cyber-attack.

How To Improve Your VoIP Security

Now that we have talked about how vulnerable VoIP systems can be and how we can identify possible signs of hacks, let’s take a look at some of the ways to improve overall VoIP security:

  1. Perform periodic system checks: It’s important that you run security checks on your system after specific periods of time to identify any possible anomalies.
  2. Train your staff regarding spam identification and vishing attacks.
  3. Implement multiple layers of security (router firewall, network firewall, system firewall) to ward off any possible intrusive efforts.

Final Word

VoIP provides a cost-friendly and efficient avenue to communicate for businesses but if its security is not paid enough attention to, it can also make itself available to possible hacks. However, if you choose a credible service provider and do your best to mitigate some of the biggest security risks (as mentioned above), you won’t have much to worry about!

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